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World Humanitarian Day: Aid worker security needs continued investment

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The safety of aid workers is integral to ensuring reliable and effective support for the 62 million people who need humanitarian assistance around the globe, RedR says ahead of World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, as the charity calls for further investment in security training for NGO field staff.

With more than 800 unarmed and neutral humanitarians killed during the last decade alone – and a fourfold rise in aid worker kidnappings since 2005 – the threat faced by the men and women working to support communities hit by natural and man-made disasters is again on the rise.

In fact, 2011-12 saw the third highest number of aid worker incidents since 1997 with 151 recorded events including deaths, kidnappings and injuries; 22 more than last year. Afghanistan, Sudan and Somalia were the three most dangerous countries in which to operate.

Over the past year, RedR has continued to promote the safety of aid workers by training more than 1000 people, many of them nationals of disaster-hit countries, in personal safety and security management in the UK, Pakistan, Sudan, South Sudan and Kenya. Tailor-made security training for NGOs has also been delivered across Africa, Europe and Asia.

Know the risks

"Knowing what to do and how to mitigate the risks of being caught up in a security incident is the first line of defence when operating in a difficult or dangerous location", says RedR’s Security Training Manager, Ian Woodmansey.

"And feeling safe and secure is essential if you are to do your job effectively. That’s why we are so passionate about the need for effective security training for all field staff. Not only does it ensure aid workers stay safe, it means life-saving aid can continue to reach those who need it."

RedR's Chief Executive, Martin McCann adds: "As an operational necessity and a moral imperative, we call on agencies to invest in training their national staff. Over 90% of those affected by security incidents last year were nationals of the country where the incident occurred. And, as more and more aid work is carried out by national staff, this worrying figure is only set to rise."

Raising awareness

Raising awareness about the importance of aid worker security is equally as vital. RedR continues to work with www.humanitarianpolicy.org to highlight key security issues facing aid workers in the field.

Through five dedicated videos, two of them still to be released ahead of August 19, the 'Price of Anything' campaign brings together leading humanitarian and security experts to discuss issues such as risk, access, acceptance, principles and pragmatism of aid work in difficult and dangerous environments.

Watch the videos:

The Price of Anything: Acceptance and Awareness

The Price of Anything: Risk

The Price of Anything: Principles and Pragmatism